Ever since concrete was invented, during the Roman Empire, there has been a need to cut it. Unfortunately, concrete is very resistant to cutting, and specialized tools are required to do the job properly. Concrete cutting tools range from manual, hand-held tools, to large industrial cutters designed for large-scale jobs.
Concrete cutting tools are made for every size of job. Small shaping and light concrete cutting can be accomplished with special chisels and punches manufactured specifically for concrete cutting and shaping. These light hand tools are usually made from tempered high carbon steel to withstand repeated impacts on concrete. Larger cuts require motorized cutting tools, which use either a reciprocating action with a large carbon steel punch (like a jackhammer) or a rotating blade. Rotary concrete cutting blades are made of an ablative material that is designed to shed heat. The blades wear away at the concrete, and both concrete and blade material are removed in the process.
Concrete cutting tools can be used to remove unwanted or old concrete. They may also be used to make holes or cuts not planned for, or not readily included, when the original concrete was laid. Some applications for concrete cutting tools include removal of worn or damaged sidewalk or driveway sections, and large-scale construction on bridges and highways. Concrete cutting tools allow for the removal and replacement of small sections of concrete and even entire structures.
Select a concrete cutting tool appropriate for the job. Sidewalk removal may be accomplished with a hammer and concrete chisel, but is more readily accomplished with a jackhammer or rotary saw. Most, but not all, concrete contains metal reinforcements called "re-bar." When cutting through concrete that contains re-bar, the concrete cutting tool will have to cut both concrete and metal. If you are embarking on a one-time project, consider renting rather than purchasing a jackhammer or large rotary concrete cutting tool. These tools can be quite expensive to purchase.
Concrete is a very hard substance, and regardless of how it is cut, it will produce flying debris and particles that can cause injury. Proper protective equipment, including safety goggles or a face shield should be worn, as well as gloves and heavy, durable clothing. If you are using rotary concrete cutting tools, the debris may be very hot and could melt or ignite clothing. Motorized concrete cutting tools should never be used without appropriate guards.
Handling motorized concrete cutting tools requires considerable physical strength. You should not attempt to perform major concrete cutting projects unless you are confident you can maintain control of the equipment. Considering hiring a professional for major projects and always seek expert advice before attempting such a job yourself. Many sidewalks and other concrete structures can be repaired using concrete cutting tools, rather than completely replaced.
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